By LIBBY CLUETT
Saturday night’s final round of singing – pitting 10-year-old “veteran” Voice Competition pop singer Mackenzie Lawhon against high school student J.D. Choate, Weatherford’s Addison Fundis and Willie Coe – put the panel of four judges to the test at the Phythian Sister’s second annual Voice Competition.
The judges may not have been Cee-Lo, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera or Blake Shelton, but they included some local celebrities, such as: Hilary Allen, aka Miss Hannigan; Cody Jordan of the Travis Elementary Cadets; Debra James, musician and mom of Casey James; and an almost-famous “Australian” rock star, calling himself “Nigel,” but looking a lot like Adam Hull with tattoos, piercings and leather.
While the singers brought on their best vocals, the judges – sans Nigel – offered solid critiques. Occasionally Nigel had something constructive to say, but he largely provided color.
In the end, third place went to Coe, second to Lawhon and first to Fundis, which was only partly decided by judges. Half came from funds raised before the competition and monetary donations placed in jars at Saturday’s fundraiser.
But there were many more talented singers of all ages for judges to consider. Showing up to battle for the final round were Morgan Baker, who also provided sound support, Marsha Best, Nathan Choate, James Meeks, Casey Lister, Cambren Morrison, Rebeka Primm, Chip Proctor and Heather Thomas Van Deren.
Also contributing to the fundraising were silent and live auctions with donated items such as a Custom Swirl electric guitar, which required a phone call for further bidding approval, a two-night stay and dinner for four at Possum Kingdom Lake’s The Harbor, oil paintings, tools and much more.
Event Chair Amanda Franklin said the Pythian Sisters Temple No. 14 expects to net around $13,000 from the event.
“I was pleased to see the turnout from the community,” she said. “The contestants were wonderful and the judges and emcee [Daniel Gray] were fun … it couldn’t have worked out better.”
“I want to thank the people who sponsored and contributed to make it successful. We can’t wait to donate to the local non-profits with the proceeds we made,” Franklin added.
When it came down to the culmination of Saturday’s program, the real winners were several organizations in and around Mineral Wells. Proceeds from the Pythian Sisters’ event will benefit Meals on Wheels, Palo Pinto Challenge, Mineral Wells Optimist Club, First United Methodist Church Back-Pack Buddies program, First Christian Church Food Bank, the local unit of the Salvation Army and the Pythian Home in Weatherford.